Vinalhaven: Wind Power Noise Dispute On Tranquil Maine Island Intensifies

Wind Power Noise Dispute On Tranquil Maine Island Intensifies

Wind Power Noise Pollution

First Posted: 05/24/11 01:47 PM ET Updated: 05/24/11 01:48 PM ET

While thousands of wind power enthusiasts and industry representatives gather in Anaheim Calif. forWindpower 2011, the American Wind Power Association's popular annual conference and exhibition, some 3,300 miles due east, wind power is tearing a tiny island community asunder.

In the latest turn, an attorney representing several homeowners living closest to a three-turbine wind installation on the tiny island of Vinalhaven in Maine's Penobscot Bay filed a formal complaint with the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Monday.

The complaint charges that the Fox Island Electric Cooperative, the local utility, and Fox Island Wind, the developer of the wind installation which is owned by the utility, have engaged in repeated harassment of the homeowners, who have argued since shortly after the turbines came online in late 2009 that the machines have been in violation of state noise ordinances. That assertion was subsequently supported by the state Department of Environmental Pro....

The developer has repeatedly disputed those findings, and the majority of the island's residentssupport the wind farm, which is seen as a source of eco-pride and sensible thrift, ostensibly saving the island from the need to import pricier power from the mainland.

But Monday's complaint states that the residents nearest the turbines have legitimate concerns that have long gone unheeded, despite multiple attempts to resolve the issue through negotiation, and that instead the local utility has recently upped the rhetorical ante by placing two separate "inserts" inside all islanders' utility bills. The inserts claim that legal expenses associated with the neighbors' noise complaints were costing the cooperative hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that as a result, a 5 percent increase in utility rates was needed.

The announcement caused the neighbors, perhaps not surprisingly, to suffer "retribution, harassment and hostility" from fellow Vinalhaven residents who are not within earshot of the turbines, according to the complaint. The utility's tactic also amounted to what the complaint called "intimidation and an abuse of the powers of a utility."

Vinalhaven became a flashpoint last year for a small but persistent backlash a..., as residents living nearest the spinning behemoths became vocal about their experiences.

Like nearly all residents of the island, they supported the idea of a wind farm at first. Yet the Fox Island Wind Neighbors, as the loosely knit group of a dozen or so residents dubbed themselves, said they soon began to worry about the noise, being within a one-mile radius of the project site.

Representatives of Fox Island Wind assured them the noise would be minimal. But as Art Lindgren, one of the neighbors, told this reporter last year, their worst fears were confirmed once the turbines were switched on.

“In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” he said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.”

Lindgren's lament has been echoed in jurisdictions across the land, as an increasing number of communities come to weigh the innumerable collective benefits of wind power -- clean, non-toxic, no emissions, climate-friendly, water-friendly, renewable, sustainable -- against some of the downsides experienced by those living nearby.

Indeed, proximate residents around the country have cited everything from the throbbing, low-frequency drone to mind-numbing strobe effects as the rising or setting sun slices through the spinning blades:

 


 

Others have gone so far as to describe something called "wind turbine syndrome," arising from turbine-generated low-frequency noise and "infrasound," and causing all manner of symptoms -- from headache and dizziness to ear pressure, nausea, visual blurring, racing heartbeat, and panic episodes -- though the science on these claims is still thin.

And there are still lingering and long-standing concerns over hazards presented by turbines to migrating birds and bats.

At Vinalhaven, for example, a 28-month study conducted by ornithologist Richard Podolsky, who was hired by Fox Island Wind, the project's developer, recently declared the turbines' impacts on local eagle and osprey p....

But in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter to attorneys representing the Fox Island Wind project, lambasting those conclusions. The letter questioned the study's methodologies for studying eagle, bat and bird collision assessment and mortality, suggesting that they needed to be more rigorous and better-defined and described.

The wildlife regulators asked that new studies be conducted before a permit necessary to allow the project to proceed -- despite the potential for incidental harm to bald and golden eagle species in the area -- is issued. Both are protected by federal legislation.

Meanwhile, the complaint filed on Monday asks the Maine Public Utility Commission to sanction the Vinalhaven utility and Fox Island Wind for the utility bill inserts, and urges them to prevent any similar communications with ratepayers in the future.

It also asks that the state commission prevent the island utility from attempting to raise rates to cover expenses from its dispute with the affected homeowners going forward -- characterizing such expenses as "the product of mismanagement, and reckless conduct."

Queries sent to officials at Fox Island Wind and the Vinalhaven electric cooperative were not immediately returned Tuesday morning. This report will be updated if they respond.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/wind-power-noise-pollution...

 

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Comment by MaineHiker on May 27, 2011 at 11:32pm

 

Given the community distress turbines caused, pitting households against others, the added tax and the reasoning behind it, and the effect turbines have on habitats (there are no bats on the island (yeah right!), I believe an immediate moratorium and investigation of the Maine Public Utility Commission, to sanction the Vinalhaven utility and Fox Island Wind for the utility bill inserts, and urges them to " prevent any similar communications with ratepayers in the future. "

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

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